Conejo Valley Botanic Garden - Thousand Oaks

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The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a 33 acre retreat of hiking trails and natural habitat adjacent to Conejo Community Park off of Lynn Road and Gainsborough. 

CVBG now offers plant sales (weather permitting) every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. featuring California native and drought tolerant plants. Reasonable prices! Enter at the Kids' Adventure Garden entrance (400 W. Gainsborough Road).

This is really a special place to bring the kids for low key hike.  There are numerous trails and a short walk/hike to the top of the mountain rewards you with sweeping views of the entire Conejo Valley, from Westlake Village to Thousand Oaks to Newbury Park.

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Here is what you'll find at the CVBG:

  • The Nature Trail is 3/4 of a mile long and meanders above the creek through oaks and willows. This is a moderate trail.

  • The Little Loop Trail leads you above the creek, through chaparral and around a meadow.

  • The Native Plant Section and Lower Meadow feature southern and northern California plants.

  • Lillian's Meadow showcases perennials, shrubs and trees that thrive with minimal water.

  • The Salvia Garden delights hummingbirds and butterflies.

  • The Butterfly Garden is a safe haven that provides nectar and food sources for butterflies and caterpillars.

  • The Nursery houses workspace for the plant propagation team and hosts plant sales.

  • The Herb Garden exhibits an extensive and unusual collection of medicinal, kitchen and aromatic herbs.

  • The Bird Habitat has a fresh water source and is planted with native plants that provide year-round food source for birds.

  • The Australian Section features collection of plants from down under.

  • The Desert Garden hilltop landscape features cacti, succulents and desert trees and provides a panoramic view of the Conejo Valley.

  • The Rare Fruit Orchard holds an extensive collection of trees.

  • The Tranquility Garden is planted in the Japanese style featuring California native plants.

  • The Oak Tree Grove has many species of North American and other oak trees.

  • The Trail of Trees exhibits 50 trees with a variety of genera.

If you have small kids, they will love the Kids' Adventure Garden and treehouse, open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  They'll enjoy hiking through the trails and exploring the streams and bridges.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is located at 400 West Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks.  For more information visit www.conejogarden.org.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

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101 Escape Rooms in Westlake Village

101 Escape Rooms is located at 31139 Via Colinas #210, Westlake Village, across the street from the Four Seasons Westlake Village. Open 7 days a week. Offering interactive fun trying to escape from a room, using puzzles and clues. Current rooms (as of June 2019) include Starship Libra, Old Sparky and Altamira. Learn more at www.101escaperooms.com.

Disc Golf in Ventura County

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Looking for disc golf options in Ventura County? You’ve come to the right place. These are all available to the public, free of charge.

The newest disc golf option is at Sapwi Trails Community Park in Thousand Oaks. The course has 19 holes. Hole #1 is located off the parking lot on Avenida de los Arboles at Kensington Drive. The park and course opened in March 2019. and is managed by the Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD).

Rabbit Flats Disc Golf Course is located on the west end of Thousand Oaks Community Park, 2525 N. Moorpark Road (next to Thousand Oaks High School). This course opened to the public in May 2010. Park managed by CRPD.

Coyote Point Disc Golf Course is an 18 hole course located at Lake Casitas, 11311 Santa Ana Road, Ventura.

Chaparral Park, located at 217 N. Medea Creek Lane in Oak Park, has a newer 10 hole course. Course map at THIS LINK (that link also provides detailed instructions on how to play!). Park is managed by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District (RSRPD).

Also managed by RSRPD is a 12 hole disc Sycamore Park Disc Golf Course at Sycamore Park, 855 N. Planetree Avenue, Simi Valley. Detailed map and instructions at THIS LINK.

There is yet another disc golf course located at Sequoia Park, 2150 Tracy Avenue, Simi Valley. Also managed by RSRPD, this is a 9-hole course. Course map and instructions at THIS LINK.

Finally, there is a 9-hole disc golf course located at Lake Piru Recreation Area, 4780 Piru Canyon Road, Piru.

Lake Piru Recreation Area

Lake Piru Recreation Area

The 60 acre Lake Piru Recreation Area is located on the western shore of Lake Piru, an artificial lake in the Los Padres National Forest. Lake Piru offers 238 tree-shaded campsites, coin-operated hot showers and a store. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and grill top.

The dam is owned and operated by the United Water Conservation District of Santa Paula and a third party operates the campsite; visit campone.com/campsites/lake-piru for more information. Boat rentals and fishing available as well as a newer children's playground area.  Make camping reservations by calling 805.521.1500.

Lake Piru in Summer 2015

The Ultimate Escape Rooms at Ventura Harbor Village

The Ultimate Escape Rooms are a recent addition to Ventura Harbor Village. There are four different themed rooms that a group of up to eight people are have to escape within a 60 minute time frame.

But how? The room is full of puzzles, riddles and props that the group must decipher to come up with the ultimate "code" to escape the room. Using the combined efforts of your group, you must review the clues and solve a series of puzzles to make your way out of there.

Yes, I have tried it with a group of 11 to 14 year old kids and we had a fun time trying to get out of there. Although we were unable to figure out the final piece to our puzzle, we enjoyed it. And don't worry...if the group needs clues, you can all raise your hands and you will be given a bit of help.

They do not allow you to bring personal belongings like cell phones into the rooms, but lockers are provided. 

The current room themes as of June 2019 are: The Wizard’s Lair, We Are All Mad Here, Mermaid’s Curse and The Attic. Pricing is $39 per person.

We tried "We Are All Mad Here." Quite an interesting assortment of items on display in the room. This was an experience that none of us have ever had and the kids and I worked together to ultimately fail to get out of the room...but succeed in having fun!

Learn more at www.theultimateescaperooms.com.

Excido Escape Room in Moorpark

Excido Escape Room at 6593 Collins Drive, Ste D 13, Moorpark is a live-action game where a group of up to 6 players are locked into a room and must find clues and solve a series of puzzles to find a way out. But don't worry, if you can't figure it out in 45 minutes, they do let you out of the room.

There are currently (June 2019) two room choices: "The Cabin,” “The Music Studio” and “Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory.”

Pricing is $30/person Thursday/Friday and $35/person Saturday/Sunday. Learn more at www.excidoescaperoom.com.

Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

NOTE: Oakbrook Regional Park sustained fire damage and the replica Chumash village was completely lost in the Woolsey Fire of 2018. However, a majority of the oak trees survived. Trails are now back open to the public. Funds are being raised and volunteers are being sought at www.gofundme.com/chumash-indian-museum-wildfire-fund.

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Located in Lang Ranch at the top of Westlake Boulevard near Avenida de los Arboles at 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway, Thousand Oaks, the Chumash Interpretative Center / Chumash Indian Museum contains Chumash artifacts and historical items, nature walks and tours of the beautiful local Oakbrook Regional Park area.  The museum is open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Admission price is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors 65+ and $3.00 for children under 12. There is no charge to walk the trails in the park.

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The Chumash Indian Museum is located on a historical Chumash village site and contains a large collection of Chumash artifacts.

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Stroll around the 436 acre Oakbrook Regional Park, a Ventura County historical landmark #90 (designated in 1983). 

Contact the Center for more information about these and other events, field trips, weddings and birthday parties at www.chumashmuseum.org or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.

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America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

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Don't want to drive 45 minutes to the nearest zoo?  Well then, stop by local Moorpark College to visit the student-run America's Teaching Zoo

This five acre zoo housing nearly 200 exotic animals is part of the college's Exotic Animal Training and Management Program and is open each weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays).  This interesting collection has included all sorts of animals, like alligators, geckos, elephants, emus, tigers, camels, snakes, ocelots and more. Animal show times at 12 pm and 2 pm. Animal demonstrations from 3:30-4 pm.

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Students in the program are required to work most days and weekends.  For a truly unique wild animal experience, stop by and check it out. Don't expect anything fancy. This is a very low key place, but lots of fun as it is usually not very crowded and you can get really close to the animals. This huge Galapagos Tortoise is Clarence. Learn more about him here.

The zoo is open on weekends with an admission fee of $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors (checks and cash only). Under age 2 is free.

Visit zoo.moorparkcollege.edu or call 805.378.1441 for more information.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

The Zoo is located at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.  Take the 101 North to the 23 North to the 118 East.  Exit Collins and turn left at the stop sign.  Go through 2 stoplights and turn right into the 2nd entrance past the stoplights.  Turn right in the parking lot and continue up the short hill to the right.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

Stagecoach Inn Museum - Newbury Park

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The Stagecoach Inn Museum is a replica of a Monterey style inn, the 1876 Grand Union Hotel. The complex also includes a Chumash Indian village, an early California adobe, a pioneer house and a few other buildings. There is a nice park adjoining the property along with nature trails and a stream that make this a nice place to bring the entire family.

Spanish Adobe structure at Stagecoach Inn is a replica of housing that would be seen in the Conejo Valley in the early 1800s.

Spanish Adobe structure at Stagecoach Inn is a replica of housing that would be seen in the Conejo Valley in the early 1800s.

The Stagecoach Inn Museum is State Historical Landmark No. 659.  The original structure was destroyed by fire in April 1970 but has been rebuilt and relocated.  It was originally located at the corner of what is now Ventu Park Road and the Highway 101, where a historical marker has been placed.

The Stagecoach Inn is located at 51 South Ventu Park Road, Newbury Park.  Call 805.498.9441 or visit www.stagecoachinnmuseum.com for more information. As of May 2019, it is open from 1 pm to 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Adults $5, 62+ and ages 13-21 $4, kids 5-12 $2.

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Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Janss Marketplace at 275 North Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks (corner of Moorpark Road and Hillcrest) is an open air mall that has a large outdoor eating area, interactive water fountain, monthly Kids Fun Zone and outdoor kids play area.

Retailers and other businesses at Janss Marketplace include Gold's Gym, Ulta Beauty, Old Navy, Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom Rack and others.

Eateries include Buca di Beppo, Panera Bread, Karma Indian Cuisine, Crazy King Kong Sushi, Lucky's Dog House, Subway, Sunset Terrace Restaurant, Greco's New York Pizzeria, Cold Stone Creamery, Sharky's, The Dudes' Brewing Company and Janchi Korean BBQ. Coming soon: Matcha.

And for entertainment, there’s Regal Cinemas, Dojoboom Extreme Sports, Dave & Buster’s and the Conejo Valley Art Museum.

Visit www.janssmarketplace.net/coupons for special offers/coupons at Janss merchants.

For more information visit www.janssmarketplace.net or call 805.495.4662.

In 2009 the Janss Marketplace added a NEOS Wall, a fun interactive game right outside the Golds Gym.  This game is free. 

Some former occupants of Janss Marketplace: Toys R Us (summer 2018) Wachovia Banking Center (closed April 2011), Akio’s Sushi (Oct 2012; now Crazy King Kong Sushi), Sizzler/Fuddruckers/Hooters (currently vacant), TGI Fridays (2012)/DISH (Nov 2013) (now Janchi), Aaron Brothers (2018), Tuesday Morning (June 2012), Radio Shack, Marshalls, Mervyn’s, Mann 9 Theatres/Regency Theatres (now Regal Cinemas), Burger King/Salad Gourmet (2016)/Poke Tiki (Apr 2019).

Butera's Billiards in Moorpark

Butera's Billiards is located at 476 West Los Angeles Avenue in Moorpark, offering 10 nicely maintained pool tables, dartboards, trivia (Wed nights) and a nice selection of beers as well as snacks. A popular place for professionals, local dart leagues and the community.

Visit buterasbilliards.com for more information or call 805.523.3088.

Ojai Trolley Service

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The City of Ojai has run the Ojai Trolley Service since 1989.

There are two routes - routes A and B, each with 10 stops, most overlapping. Route A services out to Gridley Road, including Whispering Oaks. Route B services the Ojai Valley Inn. All other nine stops on the two routes are the same, starting from Ojai Avenue at the Arcade.

It costs $1.50 to ride the trolley (as of April 2019) or $4 for a day pass. Reduced ($.75/$2) and free fares available for children under 45”, seniors 75+ and disabled with proper ID.

The trolley runs 7 days a week,  every day of the year except Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Hours vary. Route A service starts at 6:36 am on weekdays and 7:06 am on weekends. Route B service starts at 7:06 am on weekdays and 8:06 am on weekends.

For more information and detailed route schedules, visit www.ojaitrolley.com.

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Dog Parks In and Around Ventura County

Here's a compilation of parks in and around Ventura County as well as adjacent areas that have off-leash opportunities for your pooches. The days and times indicated below are subject to change; links to the local recreation and park districts have been provided below.

Thousand Oaks

Conejo Creek Dog Park at 1350 E. Avenida de las Flores is a 3 1/2 acre dog park with separate sections for large and small (30 lbs or less) dogs. Open daily 7 am to 8:30 pm; closed Thursdays 7-9 am and all day the 3rd Thursday of each month. crpd.org/parkfac/dogpark

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A bit brown at the Conejo Creek Dog Park due to the drought. But there are grassy sections too.

A bit brown at the Conejo Creek Dog Park due to the drought. But there are grassy sections too.

Additionally, Conejo Recreation and Park District opened three smaller off-leash area dog parks in 2015 at Estella Park, 300 Erbes Road, Thousand Oaks, Kimber Park, 3295 Bear Creek Road, Newbury Park and Walnut Grove Park, 400 Windtree Avenue, Thousand Oaks. These areas do not have grass. More details at crpd.org/parkfac/dogpark.

Westlake Village

The 1.2 acre Westlake Village Dog Park opened to the public on July 21, 2018. The park features small and large dog areas, shade shelter with seating, pet wash stations and more. Located at the southwest corner of West Oak Crest Drive and Agoura Road. On street parking available.

Camarillo

The Friends of Camarillo Dog Parks is a volunteer organization that looks out for the needs of pooches and their owners in the Camarillo area. Learn more at www.camarillodogparks.com. They work with the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District to support dog parks in the city, which include:

Mission Oaks Park at 5501 Mission Oaks Boulevard has a designated off-leash area open the following time frames: Monday - Friday: 4pm-Dusk; Saturday - Sunday: Dawn-Dusk. Learn more at www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/mission_oaks_park.asp.

NOTE: Camarillo Grove Park is closed until further notice as a result of the Hill Fire of November 2018. Updates at THIS LINK.

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Camarillo Grove Park at 6968 E. Camarillo Springs Road has a dedicated dog park that is open daily from 7:30am to dusk. The entire park is also an off leash park Mon-Fri. On Sat/Sun, dogs are allowed off-leash only in the enclosed dog park area and on the trails until 10am. www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/grove.asp

The Springville Dog Park opened in September 2012 at 801 Via Zamora, Camarillo. Open 7 am to dusk daily; closed Fri mornings until 10:00 am for lawn maintenance.  www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/springville.asp

Simi Valley

The Simi Dog Park at 2151 Lost Canyons Drive is open daily from 7 am to dusk and is closed for maintenance on Thursdays from 7 am to 10 am. There's a separate area for large and small dogs. To get to the dog park, enter through Big Sky Park. www.rsrpd.org/simi_valley/parks/simi_dog_park.php

Oak Park

The Oak Canyon Dog Park is located towards the top of Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Drive. Open 7 am to dusk daily; closed 7 am to 10 am Fridays for maintenance. There are areas for large and small dogs. www.rsrpd.org/oak_park/parks/oak_canyon_dog_park.php (NOTE: As of 4/9/19, Oak Canyon Community Park continues to be closed to vehicle access due to fire/flood damage. Dog park is open to walk-in traffic.)

A view from above of the nicely appointed Oak Canyon Dog Park in Oak Park.

A view from above of the nicely appointed Oak Canyon Dog Park in Oak Park.

Ojai

The County of Ventura maintains the Mitchell Edelson Dog Park at Soule Park, 1301 Soule Park Road, Ojai. Open at 7:30 am daily and closes at 5 pm Nov-Feb, 6 pm Mar and Oct, 7:30 pm Apr, May, Sep and 8 pm Jun-Aug. Parking is $2 per vehicle on weekday; $4 on weekends/holidays. There are areas for larger dogs and dogs under 20 lbs. www.ventura.org/gsa/parks/mitchell-edelson-dog-park-at-soule-park

Oxnard

There is a designated dog park at College Park, 3250 South Rose Avenue, Oxnard. It is open 7 am to dusk daily. An additional dog park is at Campus Park at 5th and H Streets. Also open dawn to dusk daily.

Ventura

There is a non-gated off-leash dog park area at Arroyo Verde Park at the corner of Foothill and Day Roads in Ventura. It is available for off-leash use Tuesday through Sunday from 6 am to 9 am. 

There's a fenced in dog park at Camino Real Park at Dean Drive and Varsity Street in Ventura. Open every day from dawn to dusk.

More information at THIS LINK.

Calabasas

The Calabasas "Bark Park" is located at 4232 Las Virgenes Road. Open 5 am to 9 pm daily. www.cityofcalabasas.com/recreation/barkpark.html. Bark Park is now partially re-open after it was closed for months as a result of damages from the Woolsey Fire of Nov 2018.

View of the Calabasas Bark Park from the Bark Park Trail

View of the Calabasas Bark Park from the Bark Park Trail